Performance analysis and coaching

Guide All Ages

FA performance analysis education lead, Laura Seth, outlines the role of performance analysis in the coaching process.
“The role of the performance analyst, first and foremost, is to inform a coach’s decision-making,” explains Laura Seth, The FA's performance analysis education lead.“Analysts almost need to be the coach’s second pair of eyes and bring things to the table that the coach might not have seen, but would have if they had the time,” she adds.

For that to be an effective process, Seth underlines the need for analysts to be fully integrated into the coaching team, working collaboratively with all the staff involved.

“The analysts have to be fully integrated within a multidisciplinary environment and need to foster a strong relationship with the coaching staff, as many hours can be spent working together.”

The role of the analyst in helping form the training and game strategy for games is a key part of the role, explains Seth.

“If we use the example of our U21 squad at the European Championships, the squad had a team of analysts working on both England's group and the group of teams they may have met in the later stages.

“The analysts provide the coaching staff with key information related to tactics and strategies and how the opposition might approach the game.

“Between game one and game two, the coaching staff and the analyst staff will review performance.

“They will review their next opposition game in full and then will have a training session on the game-plan for the next match.

“That will then also be filmed and analysed with any key outputs fed back into the coaching staff.”

Things like that make the endless hours in front of the computer studying games worthwhile 

Next, that information must be relayed back to the players and Seth explains that, with the support of the analysis team, this can be done in various ways depending on the preference and skills of the coach.

“Our secondary role is supporting what is put in front of the players.

“The players won’t sit through the whole game but will watch edited content that centres upon what they need to be aware of most leading in to that game – with our younger players we may only show them a few minutes of edited highlights.

“You might show them certain things, but it's the coach who decides how that's communicated to the team.”

While that’s often delivered through a coach-led session, there's now more of an emphasis on the players. Seth cites a memorable moment from her time working with the England U19s when giving the players responsibility of analysing their opposition proved successful.

“A couple of seasons ago, the U19s were playing Denmark and ahead of the match we posted a game of Denmark online.

“The players then went and watched it in their own time and rather than the coach standing up and telling them about how the opposition were going to play, the players took the responsibility themselves.

“They identified that Denmark always tried to play out, regardless of the pressure we put on them.

“We won the game 3-1 and two of the goals came from our pressing strategy, nicking the ball as they were playing out and scoring.

“The process we used played a massive part because the players identified a team’s weakness and determined how we were going to approach that game in terms of our tactics. They had a lot more ownership of the game and went out there and executed that really well.

“Things like that make the endless hours in front of the computer studying games worthwhile.”

This article was first published in The Boot Room magazine in August 2015.

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